Igor Zaharevich was born on March 23, 1963, in Chisinau, Moldova. He’s a 5 Dan Aikido Aikikai Shidoin and a founder of the Aikido Federation in the country.
At the end of the ’70s, karate made much of the interest in the post-soviet countries and Igor got his hands on Karate Wado-Ryu’s book. Somewhere in the chapter of the book where evasions were explained was a sentence which inspired a life-long research.
While the old Karate schools successfully oppose force to force, in modern schools (such as the Wado-Ryu) evasions are used widely, which constitute the technical basis of Aikido. It is traditionally necessary to first block a blow and only then to launch a counterattack but evasions allow to defend and counterattack simultaneously.
Soon Igor was able to find a Yoshinkan Aikido Book from Gozo Shioda. A book was in Serbo-Croatian this time but a purchase increased an interest even more.
The next step was an acquaintance with Oleg Kantemirov, a founder of a Wado-Ryu Karate in the USSR. Oleg knew some basic Aikido moves and was the one to give Igor Zakharevitch his first Aikido lesson. In two months Igor was in Moscow State University where Oleg introduced him to Alexander Kachan and Veacheslav Matveev. Last one is considered as a the first teacher by Igor.
Here’s Zaharevich sensei reflection on a trip:
The Aikido Section was created under the Academic Council of the Moscow State University. In those days Karate was banned and the “experimental” section of Aikido was something of a closed elite club, even for the most elite.
Igor came back home and found a place to make a first Aikido Dojo in a country. Students were people Zaharevich already knew. He was regularly visiting Moscow to get more knowledge and in 1989 Igor with two of his friends came to attend Koichi Barrish in Moscow. Koichi came in a company of 20 hakama’s and this was much.
Also, Minoru Kanetsuka, 6th Dan Aikido Aikikai at that time, visited Moscow regularly. Igor attended all his seminars and in 1996 managed to go to Great Britain for a month to join Kanetsuka’s Dojo and British Aikido Federation summer school.
In 1994 Zaharevich sensei registered an Aikido Federation of Republic of Moldova. He’s was traveling gathering Aikido knowledge and found himeself at a seminar of Masatake Fujita Shihan in Bucharest, Romania. From this day on Shihan became Igor’s teacher and a Technical Director of the Federation in Moldova. Next video was made by Zaharevich in Sofia, Bulgaria in the same year.
I could say a lot about the relationship between Sensei and Masatake Fujita but I never saw it myself. The good news is that Igor wrote an article about it on his site. It’s full of private details.
Since 1992 Igor had a black belt from Aikido European Confederation but his Shodan in Aikikai was officially received in 1997 from Masatake Fujita shihan. Another hakama on the next video is Vitalie Oncea, Igor’s friend and active Sensei.
From 1998 Federation was officially recognized by the Hombu Dojo and more than 30 Igor’s students received black belts since. The count is still growing. Igor Zakharevich himself continued aikido journey and received a Nidan. In 2007 he was examined for a Sandan both from the same Masatake Fujita.
In 2010 Igor spent two months in Japan. He trained in Hombu and Iwama Dojo as much as he was able to under the Moriteru Ueshiba and Japanese Shihans. It was the anniversary of the founder’s passing when Igor came to Japan and he visited Iwama Dojo as well. Some photos from the event.
In 2008 shihan got sick and Aikido with him discontinued. Igor been learning from the Yukimitsu Kobayashi Shihan after regularly traveling to seminars. He also met and admired Etsuji Horii shihan which now comes to Moldova on a regular basis. You can join a facebook group to keep your hand on a pulse of the events.
Zaharevich sensei holds a 5th Aikikai Dan. He’s a rigorous aikidoka spreading his lifetime experience, engaging new minds. Aikido.md and Aikido Moldova Youtube Channel are made by Zaharevich sensei. Links will lead you to videos, lessons, exams of sensei and his students.